Embalming Practices of Ancient Egyptians
Gary Eubanks

Seti 1 died in 1279 BC, and the grave builders had just 70 days--while priests mummified his body--to ready the tomb to receive the pharaoh's remains (National Geographic, September 1998).

To prepare the deceased for the afterlife during pharaonic times, funerary workers remove most internal organs, then sterilized the body and dried it by packing it--inside and out--with natron salts. About 40 days later the body was wrapped in linen strips, placed in a series of wooden cases and an outer stone coffin, and laid in a crypt (National Geographic, October 1999, page 80).

First, there seems to be a contradiction between these two statements. One seems to indicate that mummification took seventy days, while the other says it took forty days. Thus, it is not always the Bible against which contradictions may be claimed. In fact, this seems to be the sort of contradiction some would claim against the Bible: facts which seem to clash but do not necessarily do so. Yet, if people were to treat other literature like they treat the Bible, they would find many more contradictions. There is a prejudice against the Bible or too much readiness to condemn it as contradictory.

On closer examination, one might be able to perceive several ways to resolve the apparent contradiction between the statements about mummification in the National Geographic issues. (1) The second account says "about 40 days" were required. (2) The first account does not actually say 70 days were how long the body was packed in natron salts before being wrapped.

Second, the Bible itself provides an explanation when it says that 40 days were required for embalming (mummification), and then 70 days were spent in mourning (Genesis 50:1-3). This is a confirmation of the historical accuracy of the Bible.

Third, it seems the Hebrews did not use coffins for burial, but the Egyptians did (see National Geographic above; Genesis 50:26; Luke 7:14).

Fourth, the Egyptians wept for Jacob 70 days (Genesis 50:3), while the Hebrews wept for Moses 30 days (Deuteronomy 34:8).

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